Twelve contestants compete tonight for best singer of a diva song, in other words the works of Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Donna Summer, etc.
It’s like retirement planning for these kids; the repertoire they’ll need to know when they’re put out to pasture in Vegas.
Two of the singers will go home Thursday night when the viewer voting results are announced.
First up is little Jennel Lopez, this season’s rocker chick, performing “Proud Mary” and aiming to hit the style of Tina Turner. Jennel is a cute chick but we just never buy her as a rocker -- sorry, coach Demi Lovato.
Tate Stevens, aka Simon Cowell’s Nightmare, will perform Shania Twain’s “From This Moment.” Tate is the portly country singer who came in No. 1 in audience voting last week, dashing the aspirations of “X Factor” Supreme Judge and Ratings Worrier Simon. His fave act, boy band Emblem3 only came in at No. 6 last week, on a results night that featured a performance by Simon’s boy band success, One Dimension, no less.
Tate sounds good, briefly anyway, before a way-over-miked female backup singer kicks in at a volume higher than his. We’re watching Tate, but hearing a chick’s voice coming out of his mouth. All very unsettling.
When you’re in first place with viewers, every judge falls in line, even Simon. I would be happy to write you [a $5 million] check,” Simon says.
Adorably cute, 13, and potentially believable as a diva in about 10 years, Diamond White sings Beyonce’s “Halo,” a plodding song even when Beyonce does it. She’s a bit shaky to start but grows more diva-like later in the number.
Song over, Diamond tells co-host Khloe Kardashian-O that when she’s on stage her alter ego kicks in. Khloe confides that she has an alter-ego too: “Khlo-money.”
Next, Beatrice Miller, the 13 year-old with the radio-ready raspy voice and sad-beyond-her-years face, has Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” chosen for her tune by mentor Britney Spears. It’s a good song choice, in theory, until it gets slowed down to funeral dirge pacing.
Lyric 145, the pickup trio put together by Simon continues to wander through “X Factor,” a hip-hop group stuck in the wilderness of a middle-of-the-road singing competition. Simon has chosen Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” having pronounced Queen front man Freddie Mercury, who is dead and can’t defend himself, a diva.
The performance is a mess, with the rapping part of the song inaudible over the backup, and the usual clap-your-hands-over-your-head chorus.
“You guys have lost your way; this could be the last time we see you,” judge LA Reid forecasts.
And Britney Spears, in a rare show of feistiness, turns to Simon and lectures him, “They’re a hip-hop group and they should be doing hip-hop tracks.”
Simon defends his group, by explaining they only had hours to put the number together, without explaining why. Plus, he mentions they’re easy to work with.
Poor Arin Ray, who ranked 11th last week, still looks stunned. Apparently viewers are not listening to his mentor, Britney, who thinks he’s hot. He then comes out and sings Madonna’s “Crazy for You” and justifies the collective judgment of the X-Electorate. We’re thinking Arin goes home tomorrow. Unless CeCe saves him.
Judge Demi Lovato delivers the ultimate dis, telling Arin he should be singing soulfully, but he lacks soul. Ouch!
The show has been grooming pretty Paige White as a kind of latter day Grace Jones. Her performance of Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” is long on visuals, wobbly on vocals.
This looks like it should be an easy score -- made-for-X-Factor girl group 5th Harmony will sing Mariah Carey’s “Hero.” They harmonize well enough and work at a huge advantage because they’re all pleasant to look at – and before you tire of one of them soloing, the camera moves on to the next, and soon the song is over. Their mentor, Simon, wants us to know the girls all love puppies.
Carly Rose Sonnenclar, the 13-year-old Broadway trouper, sails through “My Heart Will Go On” and blessedly doesn’t ham it up like Celine.
The judges fall all over her. LA Reid thinks we could be looking at the winner.
Vino “The Hulk” Alan, who surprised everybody by coming in third in last week’s popularity contest, sings Tina Turner’s “Let’s Stay Together.” It’s maybe the best we’ve heard him but his distracting crouch-‘n’-crotch-grab is jarringly incompatible with the love song.
The tension build: What will Simon do to revive the fortunes of Emblem3, his Less Than One Dimension?
“I’m not trying to get people to vote for this group potentially, but I just want everyone to know that they saved some kittens from downing in a lake this week, and risked their own lives,” Simon says. Which may actually be the first time we’ve seen Simon make a straight-faced joke in all the years we’ve been watching him.
So here’s what he’s done with Emblem3 – removed their trucker caps, toned down the bouncing around the stage. They sing Alicia Keys’ “No One” like they’re trying to be a straight-ahead likeable boy band. Simon predicts they’ll move up to the top of the viewer voting.
Finally, this season’s shape shifter CeCe Frey, who keeps coming back with new identities, in the hope of finally achieving likeability. This week, she is wearing on a rather elegant dress, and has peroxided her roots, to sing Celine Dion’s “All By Myself.” CeCe always sings with a barely controlled desperation that commands attention, we’ll say that for her, and if there’s a pity vote out there she’s got it locked up. We’ll miss her.